Author Archive

Reeling from Tragedy

July 29, 2011

Of all places, Norway was the recent recipient of a devastating terrorist attack that took the lives of countless individuals. The final count of dead and injured is still being tallied, leaving the Norwegian government stuck with a PR nightmare.

How do you prepare for the inevitable?

As a former news reporter on the Texas/Mexico border, I witnessed my share of devastation and tragedies while covering events as they transpired daily. Showing up at the scene of a shooting before the police arrived, reporting on two convicts who successfully escaped from prison along with the collapse of the causeway bridge connecting Brownsville to South Padre Island are just a few of the stories I covered during my tenure. The outcome of my coverage was often contingent upon the transparency of the information I received and how the Public Information Officer reacted. Too often there is a lull in responses from those responsible for releasing information and this can often cause more damage than harm.

Prior to my stint as a border journalist, I was actively chasing news for the Leeza Show, a national talk show on NBC. My hunger to be on the frontlines took me to Columbine just hours after the shootings occurred and there I witnessed a landmark tragedy unfold. When I arrived on the scene, there was one satellite truck, thankfully it was NBC but by the next morning the high school was filled with a frenzy of news media trying to capture the story. The most memorable snapshot of this horrific event was the interview between Katie Couric, Craig Scott and Isaiah Schoel’s father. The image of Craig holding hands with Mr. Schoel’s, an African American spoke volumes about the connection and comfort these two brought each other after tragically losing a sister and a son. This picture helped transform a devastating occurrence into an emblem of hope and healing.
The old saying, “Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you respond,” holds a lot of truth when it comes to the PR realm as well. You may not be prepared for the inevitable but you can respond in a way that can help paint public perception.


Caught in the Middle Continues

July 29, 2010

One of the biggest differences I’ve observed in the HKA office is  how the millenials embrace the digital world. Whether it’s a text or a tweet, these twenty-something’s utilize the rapidly changing technology as if they were breathing in air. They are entrenched with new media channels and utilize these methods as primary tools to communicate. It’s easy to understand why it appears to be a part of their DNA since they have grown up in an era where the computer is more of an entertainment device than TV. This generation was the first to be raised on the Internet, an amazing advance in technology that I have only become familiar with in recent years. On the other hand, the baby boomer generation was raised with a typewriter and was not bombarded with the wave of technology of today. The baby boomers in our office saw the value of utilizing social media vehicles as a means of communicating but were constantly trying to wrap their arms around it to figure out its purpose and benefits.

Caught in the Middle

June 22, 2010

No, I am not a middle child but I often feel like it as I am caught between the Baby Boomer and millennial generations here at HKA. As part of the MTV generation best known as Generation-X, my perceptions, work ethic and social media acumen are often quite different from my counterparts.  Sandwiched between 80 million baby boomers and 78 million millennials, Generation X — roughly defined as anyone born between 1965 and 1980 — has just 46 million members. The letter “X” was meant to signify the generation’s random, ambiguous, contradictory ways. While Baby Boomers revel in the peace/love renaissance of the 60’s, the twenty-something’s love celebrities, technology and brand names. The generalizations of these generations are endless…it’s the revelations as one of the only Gen-Xers in the office that resonates with me. More to come on this so stay tuned!

MS Mission

April 13, 2010

Although my family and I have not been directly impacted by the debilitating disease known as MS, the neurological disorder that strikes more than a quarter of a million people in the U.S. each year, it has become a battle that I have recently joined. I became acquainted with the disease through Nancy Davis, the daughter of the great oil & entertainment mogul, Marvin Davis.  In 1993, after Nancy was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, she made it her deep personal commitment to help find the cause and ultimately the cure of this disease. I have been fortunate to attend the star studded galas to support the Race to Erase MS, which have raised over $30 million for multiple sclerosis research.

The annual event where I got to rub elbows with Hollywood’s elite was my introduction to the battle waged against MS, but it became a more intimate cause to fight when I started working with Hilary Kaye at HKA, Inc. Hilary’s mom, Ruby, endured a very difficult MS condition for many years before she passed away in 2000. This inspired Hilary to form a team for the annual MS Walk called “Ruby’s Raiders.” Gathering together employees, colleagues, friends and family, Hilary works tirelessly to cultivate donations and facilitate a strong presence at the annual walk to help create a world free of MS in her mother’s memory.

This year “Ruby’s Raiders” exceeded Hilary’s expectations with over 50 participants that included two toddlers, an octogenarian in a wheelchair and 6 dogs. My little fluff ball, Oreo, was sporting a “Ruby’s Raiders” bandana along with the other canines. The excitement of wearing our new shirts and joining the throngs of enthusiastic walkers did not drown out the real purpose of our mission – to support the MS Society in making progress on treatments and to find a cure. With a picture of Ruby displayed prominently at our check-in, we walked with her image in mind along with other people who battle this disease every day.

Post-Oscar Oprah

March 15, 2010

As a former talk show producer, news reporter and now a PR Specialist, I have always viewed Oprah Winfrey as the ultimate leading lady of TV.  She is an icon, the ultimate media maven that we all aspire to know.  When I was fresh out of college working as a lowly production assistant for the Leeza Show, I had visions and dreams of working for Oprah someday.  As I climbed through the ranks of talk TV, working for the likes of Leeza Gibbons, Queen Latifah and Cybil Sheperd, the Oprah Show seemed to represent the Holy Grail of our industry and I was determined to be a part of it.

Along my journey, I had several producers and colleagues say that I should join the ranks at HARPO since I was driven to tell the stories of the less fortunate, wanting to make a difference in other peoples’ lives through the lens of a camera.  Several of the gals I worked with early on made their way into the Oprah arena and I was envious of their experience. When Oprah announced this was the last year she would be hosting her show, I was on a mission to finally see her in action for the first and last time.

It would take my friend, Evelyn, from South Texas to jumpstart my Oprah mission. She called a month before the Oscars, inspiring me to join the throngs of Oprah viewers for an online contest to see the post-Oscar show in LA. I missed my opportunity but jumped into action when she called to announce that she and her mom would be flying in from South Texas and Santa Fe, New Mexico to see the show after winning 2 tickets. I reached out to a friend who I had worked with at the Leeza Show who was now producing for Oprah to see if she had access to tickets. Initially I was too late but my persistence paid off, and thanks to Shantel Klinger, an award winning daytime producer, I was on my way to see Oprah.

Not only did I get to see Oprah, but my mom and I got to see the Oscar award winners as well since the show was taped at the Kodak Theater the morning after the Academy Awards. With only 3 hours sleep, we headed to the Hollywood Bowl with Evelyn and her mom before the sun came up. When we arrived in the parking lot, the line to register was endless, but my mom and I were escorted to a special line since we were VIP guests.

After being shuttled to the Kodak Theater where the Oscars were presented the night before, my mom and I waited in anticipation for the show to start. With little sleep, no coffee and my stomach growling, I was elated when Oprah came out on stage and introduced Sandra Bullock as her first guest. Sandra, who I now refer to as “Spunky Sandy,” was hilarious! With her hair casually pulled back in a ponytail, the Oscar winning actress was genuine, funny and sensational!

Next up was Monique, who won for best supporting actress, then Jeff Bridges and Christopher Waltz. My favorite part of the show was when Carson Kressley revealed Sandra Bullock as the best Oscar dress of the night and gave credit to her stylist. Sandra came running out on stage declaring she didn’t have a stylist and she picked out the dress herself. My aspiration to see Oprah on stage was fulfilled in the nick of time as she will reign for only a few more months. It was an unforgettable experience that will be commemorated every time the Oscars come around.